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MDE to hold scholarship lottery

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The Mississippi Department of Education is holding a lottery on August 30th to award 47 Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA) for the 2018-19 school year.

The ESA program was established by the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act of 2015 and provides scholarships to parents of students with disabilities who want to remove their child from a public school to seek educational services elsewhere.

The Legislature provided funding for approximately 428 ESA accounts for the 2018-19 school year. While the majority of the ESAs were issued to students returning from the 2017-18 school year, the MDE normally conducts a summer and mid-year lottery to award available ESAs to eligible students.

The MDE said they are holding an additional summer lottery because 37 ESA recipients said they did not plan to use their ESAs this school year. After a recalculation of the formula, it was determined that the base student cost provided for several additional ESAs. Recipients are eligible to be reimbursed up to $6,594 in 2018-19 for the cost of private educational services.

All eligible applications received for the 2018-19 school year that have not yet been awarded will be included in the lottery. There are currently approximately 203 applications on the waiting list for 2018-19. The law requires the MDE to hold a lottery to award ESAs when the demand exceeds the supply.

To participate in the ESA program, the applicant must be a Mississippi resident, the student must have had an active Individualized Education Program within five years of the date of application, and the parent must sign an agreement to adhere to the rules of participation.

Parents who are accepted into the program will be reimbursed quarterly after submission of a reimbursement request with proper documentation of expenses incurred.  Funds can also be paid quarterly directly to an educational service provider if approved by the parent.

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